Sudden Light: David Bednall’s choral works performed by The Epiphoni Consort

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bednall
LABELS: Delphian
ALBUM TITLE: David Bednall
WORKS: Sudden Light: Choral works
PERFORMER: The Epiphoni Consort/Tim Reader
CATALOGUE NO: DCD 34189

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It’s a bold composer who takes on the Thomas Tallis of Spem in aliumat his own game, but David Bednall does just that. His motet Lux orta est iusto, which opens this CD, has eight five-voice choirs in it, the same as Tallis’s polyphonic masterpiece, with the same aim of exploiting the enhanced spatial and dynamic possibilities of 40-part writing. The results are impressive. From its dramatic opening – a full-throated cry of ecstasy in D major – through episodes of sparky syncopation, and quieter passages where the spirit of ages past seems to be summoned, Bednall’s setting is constantly evolving and shifting in perspective, in ways which go decisively beyond mere mimicry of Tallis’s original composition. 

Of the 16 other pieces on the disc, Everyone Sang(to a text by Siegfried Sassoon) is a particularly good advertisement for The Epiphoni Consort’s fresh, enthusiastic performances, while both Shakespeare’s Sonnet 98and Te lucis ante terminum show considerable interpretive subtlety. 

Tuning in the lower voices can be suspect, and there are occasional ragged edges tonally. But with more than a dozen premiere recordings on offer, this is a significant addition to the Bednall discography. 

Terry Blain